Road trip – day 5 – Bryce to Zion

categories: Travel

What I now know is that one of the reasons for the spectacular geography in Bryce Canyon is the weather. Bryce has 200 days a year where it freezes and then thaws. Unfortunately, the night I stayed was one of those nights. It got down to 22?F, which is a bit cold to be sleeping in a tent, even with two sleeping bags. Finally about 6 am (a half hour before sunrise) I got up and went to the lodge for a warm breakfast buffet in a warm room. By 8 am I was at the visitor center on a bus tour of the Southern part of the park.

The bus driver / tour guide was very chatty and informative. He and his wife were retirees who work at Bryce for half the year and then live somewhere else in their TV the other half the year. We learned that Bryce was all limestone from the sea bed of an ancient sea bed. The hoodoos, (spires) are usually formed under a cap of harder limestone (dolomite) which has magnesium in it.

After lunch I took a hike down into the main amphitheater among the hoodoos into an area that is called Wall Street. It is a wonderful hike… at least down. The hike only has 500 feet of change in elevation on a series of switch-backs, but since you descend from 8000 to 7500 the air is a little thin for hiking. I did more inhaling and exhaling than productive breathing on the way back up. It was a wonderful hike that I would recommend to anyone is reasonable hiking shape.

After my hike I got back in the car and drove to Zion National Park. When entering from the Eastern side of the park you go through a long tunnel blasted into the rock for a couple of miles. You are not allowed to drive in Zion until November when the shuttle bus service shuts down for the Winter. So I pitched my tent and then walked to the visitor center where I hoped on the shuttle bus to the lodge. From the lodge I hiked up the shady side of the canyon to the emerald pools. Unlike Bryce, Zion’s rocks are all sandstone formed from the dunes of a primeval desert. Sandstone can hold an amazing amount of water which slowly makes its way through the rock until it reaches a harder layer and seems out the side of the canyon. The Emerald pools form from one such place where the water seeps from the tall cliffs. According to the bus drivers, hydrologists say that in places the water that is leaking from the canyon walls fell as rain at the top of the canyon 1500 years previous.

After dinner I went into town to Virgin River outfitters and rented equipment for a hike of the Narrows of the Virgin river for the next day. The appropriate attire included waterproof river books, neoprene socks, a dry bag for my camera and a large walking stick.

by Chris Christensen

I am the creator of AmateurTraveler.com, a popular travel blog / podcast. I am also a co-host for This Week in Travel podcast, The Bible Study Podcast and the Passport Marketing and PR Podcast. I am the owner of BloggerBridge.com and a software consultant.

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